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As Teacher of the Year, Paschal stays positive

MADISON – All children can learn, Dixie Paschal affirms, if someone else just believes in them first. She is Rainbow Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.

Paschal has taught at Rainbow since its opening in 2001, currently as library media specialist. Her first job was with Opelika School System, followed by teaching first- and second-graders at West Madison and Horizon elementaries.

With students, Paschal stays optimistic and sets high expectations, which the children meet or exceed. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” she said. “I enjoy showing students how to explore the world, question what they don’t know and trying new things without fear of failure.”

From high school, Paschal especially remembers two teachers. Her biology teacher, Mr. Hodnette, cared about each student and made learning fun and exciting.

Hodnette used inventive ways to promote retaining information. Once, he had students become a human model and wear a sign. “When someone asked us about it, we had to explain and teach them,” she said.

Another favorite, Paschal’s American History teacher, Mrs. Taylor, was elderly but students adored her. “She wouldn’t allow students to misbehave … no one wanted to disappoint her. She would dress as a famous American from the time period we were studying … in character all day.”

At Auburn University, Paschal earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education. She later received a master’s degree in library media from the University of West Alabama.

At Rainbow, Paschal has started a weekly recycling program of school. At church, she teaches Sunday school, sponsors the youth group, sings in adult praise band and serves as deacon. She also teaches a cardio class.

Her husband works as a civil service engineer/manager for the U.S. Army. “I moved to Madison in 1991 after marrying my wonderful husband,” Paschal said.

Their son Dustin of Atlanta is an Auburn graduate with an accounting degree. Their second son, a 2017 Bob Jones graduate, will study finance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Their youngest son is a Bob Jones freshman and football player.

Her hobbies include reading, making family scrapbooks, cooking, running, gardening, traveling, snow-skiing and dancing.

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